Z. Byron Wolf, CNN, April 18, 2108
What exactly did President Donald Trump mean by “breeding” when he tweeted Wednesday about cities that will not cooperate with the federal government to deport the undocumented.
The tweet, offered Wednesday morning, argued that Californians prefer his hard-line policies to those of Gov. Jerry Brown.
“There is a Revolution going on in California. Soooo many Sanctuary areas want OUT of this ridiculous, crime infested & breeding concept. Jerry Brown is trying to back out of the National Guard at the Border, but the people of the State are not happy. Want Security & Safety NOW!”
It is true that the government of Orange County has voted twice now to opt out of the state’s so-called “sanctuary” law.
“Sooo many Sanctuary areas want OUT of this ridiculous, crime infested & breeding concept,” according to the President.
What exactly does he mean by “breeding concept?” It appears to be a new addition to his rhetoric on immigration. He doesn’t appear to have used it before on Twitter or in recent public remarks on sanctuary cities.
There is great danger in trying to dissect every word of a Trump tweet, but in this case it is worth trying to figure out. CNN has reached out to the White House to figure out exactly what he meant.
Taken literally, the most likely explanation is that he’s talking about sanctuary cities as places where undocumented immigrants breed.
Fear of immigrants from certain countries “breeding” has been a staple of nativist thought for hundreds of years. The “breeding” fear has been affixed to Jews from Eastern Europe, Catholics from Ireland and Italy, Chinese and, now, Latinos, Filipinos, Africans and Haitians. This is dog-whistle politics at its worst.
“Breeding” as a concept has an animalistic connotation. Dogs and horses are bred. So his use of it is, at best, dehumanizing to the immigrants he appears to be referring to.
In an interview around the same time with CNN’s Chris Cuomo, he said, “You have people on the border and in one day, they walk over and have a baby and now all of the sudden, we’re supposed to pay the baby.”
More recently, he’s raised concerns that immigrant women coming into the US have, in large numbers, been raped.
All of those things put together suggest Trump’s “breeding concept” tweet, consciously or not, is in line with his efforts use ever more divisive rhetoric on immigration.